Community Law Center

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Booze News: Distilled in Room 215

A blog about the Baltimore City Liquor Board

What happened at the Liquor Board on June 25, 2015.

July 2, 2015

11:00 a.m. cases

On this last hearing date of their term, each commissioner took a few minutes to thank BLLC staff and talk about their experience with reforming the agency over the past year.

I. Protest of Renewal

Applicant The Estate of William J Ruppert
Business Name LL Charles LLC
Trading As Joey B’s Bar and Grill
Address 1015 S. Charles Street
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Protest of renewal under the provisions of Article 2B Section 10-301(a)
Hearing notes

Mr. Paul Robinson, one of the signatories on the protest of renewal petition, represented his fellow signatories. He thanked the commissioners for their service over the past year and expressed condolences to the Ruppert family, since Mr. Ruppert had passed away on February 10, 2015. Article 2B section 10-506 covers the death of a licensee. Under subsection (a), the license expires upon the death of a licensee, but the agency may grant a certificate of permission to the executors or administrators of the deceased licensee’s estate to continue operating the business for up to 18 months. The executor or administrator must apply for this certificate, but the statute does not give a time limit for this application. Subsection (b) says that the agency may issue the license to the deceased licensee’s surviving spouse, surviving partner(s) or surviving officer(s), if those individuals qualify to be licensees, for the rest of the license year, and the agency may issue a renewal license to those individuals in the future. Robinson pointed out that there has been no application from the estate of the licensee for a certificate of permission or for a “transfer” to the deceased licensee’s spouse. Robinson said that, absent the proper paperwork and procedures, the license is expired under Article 2B section 10-506. He denied the Executive Secretary’s assertion that the protest of renewal had been withdrawn. The same neighbors had submitted protests of renewal for the Irish Stroll participants and this bar; they had withdrawn their protest of the Irish Stroll but not of this license.

Mr. Kodenski responded that the bar has not been in operation for over a year, so the community cannot protest the renewal of the license. Mr. Ruppert had apparently been granted a hardship extension while he was still alive and had then submitted an application to transfer the license to a new owner within the 360 days prescribed by Article 2B section 10-504(d). The application to transfer is still pending before the Board.

Mr. Robinson then argued that, because there is already a license at the transferee’s address (the proposed Crossbar in Federal Hill), that the application to transfer is no longer valid. The Circuit Court had overruled the Board’s decision that the license was invalid under 10-503 and 10-504. Ward replied that this issue was still on appeal, this time to the Court of Special Appeals, taken up by the Attorney General’s office.

Zoning B-2-3
Neighborhood Federal Hill
Area demographics 90% White, 3% Black, 3% Asian; 3% Hispanic ethnicity; 15% households have children under age 18; median household income: $73,342; 8% households live below the poverty line.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants ~10
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing License renewed.
Vote tally Unanimous.
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision

Chairman Ward and Commissioner Moore agreed that, though the statute is ambiguous about the estate or widow’s deadline for applying for an extension, there was not a good enough reason presented to deny the renewal fo the license.

Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed

Article 2B section 10-506 is missing a very key detail: the deadline for a deceased licensee’s estate, partner, surviving spouse, or other qualifying person or entity to apply for additional time from the Board of Liquor License Commissioners. This ambiguity could be fixed by legislative amendment or by adding a rule to the Liquor Board’s Rules and Regulations. The Liquor Board is required to update the rules by October 2015; perhaps this problem with be solved with a new set of regulations.

II. New Applications, Transfers and Hardship Extensions:

Applicant Donna Crivello
Business Name Katsu Company, LLC
Trading As Cosima
Address 3000 Falls Road
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application for a new Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor restaurant license under the provisions of Rule 2.08 requiring $200,000 in capital investment in restaurant fixtures and facilities and seating capacity for a minimum of 75 people
Hearing notes

Ms. Donna Crivello testified that she used to run Donna’s Restaurant in Charles Village; she will keep her financial interest in Donna’s but will not be a licensee there. This new restaurant is named after her grandmother and will go into the Mill Number 1 renovated mill building on Falls Road. There will be 140 seats inside and 60 outside, and they will end up spending just under $1.5 million to create the space. According to Crivello, they’ve already spent well over the required $200,000. With Ms. Crivello was Alan Hirsch, who will be the general manager of the restaurant.

Zoning M-2-2
Neighborhood Jones Falls Area
Area demographics 77% White, 12% Black, 5% Asian; 4% Hispanic ethnicity; 18% households have children under age 18; median household income: $54,278
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee None
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing Approved
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
Applicant Mahmoud Shanaah
Business Name Momo, Inc.
Trading As Liquor Stop
Address 6400 Holabird Avenue
Type of License Class “A” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership
Hearing notes

Executive Secretary Michelle Bailey-Hedgepeth noted that the applicant had not been properly served with notice of the hearing, so it will be rescheduled.

Zoning B-3-1
Neighborhood Broening Manor
Area demographics 44% White, 25% Black, 2% 2 or more races; 20% Hispanic ethnicity; 32% households have children under age 18; median household income: $30,864.31; 22% households live below the poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee N/A
# in support N/A
Attorney for community N/A
# of protestants N/A
# of inspectors/police officers N/A
Result of hearing N/A
Vote tally N/A
Portions of state law cited in decision N/A
Other reasons given for decision N/A
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed N/A
Applicant Dylan Salmon
Business Name Dylan’s Oyster Cellar, LLC
Trading As Dylan’s Oyster Cellar
Address 3601-03 Chestnut Avenue
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application for a new Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor restaurant license under the provisions of Rule 2.08 requiring $200,000 in capital investment in restaurant fixtures and facilities and seating capacity for a minimum of 75 people
Hearing notes

Consultant Will Bauer appeared before the Board with applicant Dylan Salmon. Salmon explained that he is applying for a Class B restaurant license as well as outdoor seating. He will serve raw oysters and other seafood, along with good-quality beer, wine and cocktails. The total investment will be $315,000. Salmon has gone around to the neighbors to get signatures of support and has not run into any opposition. He hasn’t spent any money yet on the renovation, because he very recently finished raising the required money. Salmon said that he has worked in seafood his whole life; he ran a small business in Mount Vernon last summer.

Commissioner Moore, reading through the proposed capital investment breakdown, pointed out several items that can’t be considered as “capital,” including employee salaries, among other things. She calculated that there was $66,000 worth of items from the list that would not count, but that still left over $200,000 in investment that would count. Moore said that the Board would have to have receipts of actual expenditures before the restaurant license could be issued in the future. Moore also pointed out that the applicant’s business entity was not in good standing. Mr. Salmon responded that he needs to pay one fee and he will be back in good standing.

Zoning B-1-2
Neighborhood Hampden
Area demographics 77% White, 12% Black, 5% Asian; 4% Hispanic ethnicity; 18% households have children under age 18; median household income: $54,278
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; no.
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee None
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing Approved
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
Applicants Natasha Williams & Sakenah Rahim
Business Name 4 Brothers, LLC
Trading As Trade name pending
Address 3209 Belair Road
Type of License Class “BD7” Beet, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership, request for live entertainment
Hearing notes

Mr. Melvin Kodenski told the commissioners that his client is not asking for live entertainment to be added; rather, the license already includes permission for live entertainment at this address. They have met with the community and with the councilman for the area, and there has been no opposition. The transferor/current licensee has moved to North Carolina “to raise chickens” so she was not prsent at the hearing, in violation of the Board’s requirement that all licensees, transferors and applicants, be present for a transfer hearing. Ms. Sakenah Rahim testified that she currently works at DDL Lounge, at 2008 Belair Road, and, if the license transfer is granted, will work full time at the new location. For the live entertainment, she is thinking of hosting poetry nights, crab nights, or karaoke. The second floor of the building will be used for dancing, and she did not know the capacity of the building.

The commissioners noted that Councilman Branch’s letter was technically in support of the transfer but was very cautionary about problems that had happened in the past.

Zoning B-2-2
Neighborhood Belair-Edison
Area demographics 10% White, 87% Black, 1% Asian; 1% Hispanic ethnicity; 41% households have children under age 18; median household income: $42,920.80; 10% households live below the poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support ~3
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing Approved
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
Applicants Amritpal Singh Mann & Makhanjit Singh
Business Name Maan and Jaiyay, Inc.
Trading As Trade name pending
Address 1-3 S. Highland Avenue
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership
Hearing notes

Mr. Kodenski told the commissioners that the establishment has been in that location “probably since Prohibition.” The current licensee was present at the hearing, with the two applicants. They have already met with the Baltimore Highlands community association, and they are not opposed to the transfer, though there was no letter or other information from that group in the file.

Commissioner Moore asked Mr. Amritpal Singh Mann, who is 24 years old and does not own property or reside in Baltimore City, what financial interest he has in the proposed establishment. Mr. Mann replied that he has a 1% financial interest. Moore pointed out that his application states that he has no financial interest at all. She asked Mr. Kodenski, “doesn’t the city resident need to have some interest in the business?” Kodenski replied, “that’s not been the policy for 45 years.” Mr. Mann testified that he has been helping his dad at a different liquor store for four years and has been alcohol management certified.

Zoning B-2-3
Neighborhood Baltimore Highlands
Area demographics 77% White, 12% Black, 5% Asian; 4% Hispanic ethnicity; 18% households have children under age 18; median household income: $54,278
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes (typo in docket, real name is “Maan and Jaiya, Inc.”)
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 3
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing Approved
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed

Article 2B section 10-103(b)(10) states that a complete application requires “[a] statement that the applicant has a pecuniary interest in the business to be conducted under said license.” Read together with Liquor Board Rule 3.01, which says that “[e]very licensee shall be the actual owner and operator of the business conducted on the licensed premises,” it is difficult to understand how someone with absolutely no financial interest in the business would qualify to be an applicant. Mr. Kodenski argued that the Board hasn’t required this for 45 years, but, according to the 2013 Legislative Audit, the Board had not been enforcing dozens of provisions of state law and their own regulations. Any non-zero financial interest could be sufficient under state law, so, for a larger company, the ownership of a few shares of stock may be enough to qualify.

III. Violations:

Licensees Shelly Gordon & Dolores Reicher
Business Name Silverlud, Inc.
Trading As Circus Bar
Address 427 E. Baltimore Street
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License/ Adult Entertainment
Reason for hearing

Violation of Rule 4.17: Sexual Practices and Obscenity – March 10, 2015 – At approximately 7:20 pm an undercover detective of the Vice Unit of the Baltimore City Police Department entered the establishment. While at the establishment Det. Gatto engaged a dancer, later identified as Michelle Schwartz, in conversation. During their conversation Ms. Schwartz solicited Det. Gatto to engage in sexual acts in exchange for U.S. currency. Once the agreement was made, Bar Manager Terri Broseker, engaged Det. Gatto in conversation informing him that the cost of the sexual acts would be $170.00 and that he could use the basement area to engage in the sexual activity with Ms. Schwartz. Det. Gatto agreed to the conditions of the agreement and informed both parties that he would leave the establishment so that he could obtain the necessary fund to pay for services.

Violation of Rule 4.18: Illegal Conduct – March 10, 2015/January 8, 2015 – At approximately 8:00 pm the Baltimore City Police Department executed a Search and Seizure warrant at the establishment. The probable cause for the execution of the search warrant was based on a controlled purchase of illegal narcotic drugs at the establishment from a Mr. Andre Campbell, who was working as a bouncer at the establishment at time of purchase. On the date of the execution of the search warrant Mr. Andre Campbell was present and working at the establishment and was taken into custody and charged. On April 15, 2015 Mr. Campbell was convicted of Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Dangerous Substance and Distribution of a Controlled Dangerous Substance in regards to the prior controlled purchase which occurred on January 8, 2015.

Violation of Adult Entertainment: Rule 9 Codes Compliance – March 10, 2015/January 8, 2015 – On March 10, 2015, at approximately 7:20 pm an undercover detective of the Vice Unit of the Baltimore City Police Department entered the establishment. While at the establishment Det. Gatto engaged a dancer, later identified as Michelle Schwartz, in conversation. During their conversation Ms. Schwartz solicited Det. Gatto to engage in sexual acts in exchange for U.S. currency. At approximately 8:00 pm the Baltimore City Police Department executed a Search and Seizure warrant at the establishment on that same date. The probable cause for the execution of the search warrant was based on a controlled purchase of illegal narcotic drugs at the establishment from a Mr. Andre Campbell, who was working as a bouncer at the establishment at time of purchase. On the date of the execution of the search warrant Mr. Andre Campbell was present and working at the establishment and was taken into custody and charged. On April 15, 2015 Mr. Campbell was convicted of Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Dangerous Substance and Distribution of a Controlled Dangerous Substance in regards to the prior controlled purchase which occurred on January 8, 2015.

Hearing notes

Mr. Kodenski told the Board that Mr. Gordon, one of the two licensees, is very ill and in the hospital since the previous Sunday; he asks that the case be postponed due to his poor health.

Zoning B-5-2
Neighborhood Downtown
Area demographics 39% White, 37% Black, 16% Asian, 3% 2 or more races; 5% Hispanic ethnicity; 9% of households have children under age 18; Median Household Income: $38,146; 18% households live below poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 0
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing Postponed
Vote tally None taken
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
Licensees Ernest Hatmaker & Bradley Simmons
Business Name Chez Joey, LLC
Trading As Chez Joey
Address 415 E. Baltimore Street
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License/Adult Entertainment
Reason for hearing

Violation of Rule 4.17: Sexual Practices and Obscenity – March 10, 2015 – At approximately 8:00 pm an undercover detective of the Vice Unit of the Baltimore City Police Department entered the establishment. While there Det. Jackson engaged a dancer, later identified as Jasmine Vallare, in conversation. During their conversation Ms. Vallare solicited Det. Jackson to engage in sexual acts in exchange for U.S. currency. Ms. Vallare confirmed a range of prices for various services and agreed to a specific set of sexual services for $100.00 in U.S. currency.

Violation of Rule 4.18: Illegal Conduct – March 10, 2015/December 11, 2014 – At approximately 8:00 pm the Baltimore City Police Department executed a Search and Seizure warrant at the establishment. The probable cause for the execution of the search warrant was based on a controlled purchase of illegal narcotic drugs at the establishment from a Mr. Charles Thomas, who was working at the establishment at time of purchase, on December 11, 2014. On the date of the execution of the search warrant Mr. Charles Thomas was present and working at the establishment and was taken into custody and charged.

Violation of Adult Entertainment Rule 9: Codes Compliance – March 10, 2015/ December 11, 2014 – At approximately 8:00 pm an undercover detective of the Vice Unit of the Baltimore City Police Department entered the establishment. While there Det. Jackson engaged a dancer, later identified as Jasmine Vallare, in conversation. During their conversation Ms. Vallare solicited Det. Jackson to engage in sexual acts in exchange for U.S. currency. Ms. Vallare confirmed a range of prices for various services and agreed to a specific set of sexual services for $100.00 in U.S. currency. Shortly thereafter Det. Jackson’s investigation, Baltimore City Police executed a Search and Seizure warrant at the establishment. The probable cause for the execution of the search warrant was based on a controlled purchase of illegal narcotic drugs at the establishment from a Mr. Charles Thomas, who was working at the establishment at time of purchase, on December 11, 2014. On the date of the execution of the search warrant Mr. Charles Thomas was present and working at the establishment and was taken into custody and charged.

Hearing notes

Mr. Kodenski told the commissioners that Mr. Hatmaker, one of the two licensees in this case, was also in the hospital this week; Hatmaker’s doctor said that his condition would be contagious until a week from the date of the hearing.

Zoning B-5-2
Neighborhood Downtown
Area demographics 39% White, 37% Black, 16% Asian, 3% 2 or more races; 5% Hispanic ethnicity; 9% of households have children under age 18; Median Household Income: $38,146; 18% households live below poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; no.
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 0
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing Postponed
Vote tally None taken
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None

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